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New device helping Austin seniors stay connected during pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on a lot of people, but it’s been particularly hard on the elderly as the threat has been an especially dangerous threat.

They’ve often had to be secluded from family and healthcare has been disrupted to a point where just getting the normal care they need has become uncertain.

The Seniors Helping Seniors branch in Austin, owned by Richard and Linda McIntosh, has seen this first hand. Seniors Helping Seniors is a primary service that hires active seniors to help other senior citizens, in particular so they may stay in their homes as long as possible.

However, COVID-19 has even found them, mucking up the gears of completing those jobs.

“It’s been a couple different things,” Richard said. “Because most of my care providers are retirees they don’t need to work. A few of them have decided to sit this one out until it gets better.”

“A lot of their care is in assisted living, independent living and nursing homes,” he continued. “When they closed the doors, there were a lot of people they no longer could care for.”

However, in the past few weeks, as numbers of daily cases hover in the single digits, Richard has seen work begin to pick up.

As long as COVID-19 remains a presence, however, staying connected in one form or another has become increasingly important and so Seniors Helping Seniors has begun using a new medical alert system called Electronic Caregiver.

“About eight months ago I was approached by Electronic Caregiver to represent them in my area,” Richard said. “They have a basic type of pendant that can be pushed and a call center answers the call to get them the appropriate help. Take it a couple steps further, if a person needs to be checking vital signs, blood pressure, that can be done remotely via the app.”

That last part can be especially important for those living in their homes who still rely on nurse visits.

And if you really want to get futuristic, Richard said that some time in 2021 an avatar will be introduced that will allow seniors the chance to interact with going so far as to determine if something has changed in areas like walking, which in turn can help get ahead of a potential fall.

“It can tell if you have taken medications,” Richard said. “It can be a virtual home health aid.”

Electronic Caregiver will fill a roll that Richard said will hopefully be able to meet the need for caregivers in the future.

“It’s just so exciting with all of us baby boomers,” he said. “There’s just not going to be enough people to provide in-person care. We’re coming up with innovative ways to care for people.”

Ultimately, Electronic Caregiver and Seniors Helping Seniors is a piece of mind for family members as well as the seniors wishing to stay in their homes.

The pendant, which is more akin to a watch, can detect falls and as Richard explains it, it’s, “a good continuum of care.”

The continuing evolution of home care devices like Electronic Caregiver is becoming beneficial for an older generation learning to adopt technology more.

The idea that grandparents need help running their devices is something of a misnomer.

“That’s not quite true anymore,” Richard said. “Seniors are getting pretty darn good at technology.”

What Electronic Caregiver actually means is that Seniors Helping Seniors is becoming an even more rounded resource for seniors.

And that step brings them right in line with their core mission.

“The whole idea of Electric Caregiver is it enhances what Seniors Helping Seniors can do to help families keep loved ones in their homes,” Richard said. “And do it at a reasonable cost.”

For more information on Electric Caregiver or to learn more about Seniors Helping Seniors, call their office at 1-507-396-8080 or visit their website at www.seniorcareseminnesota.com.